Social networks were designed for people to connect with each other, but now they’re also a way that brands can connect with fans (and potential fans).
In 2011 Get Satisfaction released survey information on why people follow brands. The top reason was for special deals, the second was because they are a customer, and the third was interesting content.
But no matter the reason they took that first step it’s that last item, engaging content, that may be the one to get consumers to stick around.
How do you write content for the brand that sounds human, real, accessible and shareable without sounding like a robot?
One way to ensure that your social media presence is on target is to view the presence as a person. Like a character in a book or movie, this person has been created out of a mixture of imagination and life experiences.
Once you have an idea of who this “person” is, what they stand for, and what they show to the world, you will be better equipped to speak as that person in the social media space.
Many social marketers look at this from the other side, creating persona and characters that reflect average customers. But it’s also possible to do the same thing with the brand itself. Seeing your brand as a human relating to other humans may help your brand identity and add a new level of richness to your social interactions.
Here are three steps for developing a brand character:
Your Brand As A Person
If your brand was a person, what would that person be like? Imagine the brand not as an entity but as an individual. Who would they resemble? A good example is Nike. If you had to visualize the Nike brand as a person, you might see a young fit person full of energy.
Action: What does your brand look like? You may want to map out a description. This is a good team exercise because how you see your brand may be different from what your team sees.
Brand Affinities As Character Development
Fiction writers often use their characters’ tastes as a way to build character. Your brand doesn’t live in a bubble. If you only talk about yourself and your products, your social content won’t be compelling—instead, you’ll be the blowhard at the cocktail party. For example, Red Bull has expanded their brand affinities to include extreme sports, music, and cutting edge creativity.
Action: What is your brand passionate about? What specific places, interests, and events can you draw an affinity with to increase interest in your brand?
Staying In Character
Once you’ve crafted your brand persona, it’s important to continue to deliver on that promise. Even when you are replying to people you are doing not just as a representative of the brand but as the brand itself with all its traits. Customer service disasters can happen when the people behind the account forget that they aren’t writing as themselves but as the brand.
Action: Make it visual. List out the characteristics and brand affinities on a whiteboard so that they serve as a constant reminder of the spirit of the brand. Make sure those characteristics are also represented in the brand’s online presence in terms of imagery used—such as background and icon choices on social networks.
While actors and writers that create a character are advised never to drop the mask, for community managers it is a bit different. If you’re corresponding one-on-one with someone via private channels (email, Facebook message, etc.)—especially regarding a service or product issue—it generally makes sense to step out from behind the curtain and identify yourself as an individual speaking on behalf of the brand.
But the public persona should still remain in place, even as people move from fans to active users or participants. Things can get more intimate and personal as you know more about the community members you’re interacting with—but the overall character remains the same.